One of the most difficult things that you will face as newly weds is having to deal and relate with the new family that you have just acquired. The thing Gathoni & I found out was that you can choose your spouse, but you never get to choose your in-laws. Just the same way you never got to chose your own family. God favoured Gathoni & I to give us such wonderful & caring in-laws, and in the 7 years we have been married, we have had a wonderful relationship. Thus, because we have not been married for too long, we cannot claim to be an authority on this sensitive subject. We asked the Lord to guide us & show us what to write, for the simple reason that He is the author & originator of marriage. And the much that we will share here is not from our own experience or expertise but from the one who made this wonderful institution.
Who Are We Addressing?
In this post and the consecutive one, we will address the husbands & wives. We realised that the bulk of the readers of this blog fall under the age of 40. So, since we cannot get to your folks, we will address the married couple and we only pray that you to be open to instruction. Just take some time and read through and then ask the Lord for wisdom on how to relate with your in laws. On this 1st part of the series, we will address the husbands.
To The Husbands
DEALING WITH YOUR WIFE’S FAMILY
Husbands, I would love to draw your attention to these words below
“Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.Deuteronomy 5:16
When God blessed us with our 1st born daughter, my outlook on dealing with my father-in-law completely changed. For the 1st time, I was able to see it from the other side, how it feels like to have a daughter. Even though our daughter Imani is just 5 years old, I love her with all my heart, and I cannot imagine the thought of someone harming or hurting her. When that time comes for me to give her away (O help me God!) I would love that my future son-in-law be someone who absolutely adores her and also respects me. Or else…👇
I thank God that getting a daughter completely changed how I viewed my father-in-law. I realised that the only thing he desired more than anything was that; I love & cherish his little girl and also accord him the respect he deserved. The bible in both the old & new Testament (Eph 6:3) reminds us to honour our parents. Honour basically means to show a high amount of respect. And the best thing is that this is the only commandment that comes with a 2 fold promise attached to it. Long life & prosperity.
It Is Not A Pissing Contest!
Pardon my use of such language, but this was the best way I could put my point across. If you ever put two animals together of the male species, then you know that a fight for dominance always ensues and whoever wins, gets the girl🕺🕺🕺.
YEAH, BRING IT ON!!!
During the early years of our relationship, I always felt the pressure to give Gathoni a better, if not the same, quality of lifestyle that she had been used to at her home. So, every time I visited her folks, I always felt like a washed-out failure, since we had no car and we were renting a tiny house. I felt like I was in a silent duel with my father-in-law, just to see who can give the girl a better life. God reminded me that my father-in-law had most likely a 20-30 year head-start ahead of me. And when I got to know him more, I realised that he & mum had had such a humble beginning too. There was no need to feel pressure. All he required of me was to love their daughter and be faithful to her. The wealth and the shiny things will come later, he assured me.
Culture & In-Laws
One day, as we were driving home from visiting Gathoni’s folks, some policemen flagged us down.
They then asked us where we were coming from and innocently, I told them that I was from visiting from my in-laws. What then ensued was a 10 minute lecture on how I was an embarrassment to the male species. They told me that an African man is not supposed to visit his in-laws, that is un-cultural & unmanly. 😳😳😳😳😳😳😳
After that they let us go and told me not to repeat this again!
That just shows you how we Africans view our in-laws. One time in the bible, Jesus was visiting Peter and he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying on the bed with a fever, he then proceeded to heal her. Jesus never admonished Peter for living with his mother-in-law, or pointed it out as odd. If Jesus could approve of it, then we also can.
That is when I realised that we, African males, are socialised to believe that our in-laws are a no go zone. There is nothing further from the truth. Through the grace of God, I have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with my in-laws all through our marriage. I have learnt a lot and benefitted a great deal from this relationship. Kindly note that the bible commands us to HONOUR, not to AVOID.
Njenga Karume & His Father in-law
In his autobiography Beyond Expectations, Njenga (who was the typical traditional kikuyu man), tells the interesting story of his relationship with his Father-in-law. They both were great and amazing friends. His father-in-law introduced him to business and taught him most of what he knew about the trade. They were such good buddies that at one time his father-in-law advised him to get a 2nd wife as he needed an extra hand to manage his wealth. 😂😂😂😂
I would humbly advice my fellow husbands to take some time and get to know your father-in-law (If you haven’t already). This will involve putting ‘tradition’ and a little ego aside. In turn, you will get to learn a great deal and you never know, maybe your breakthrough will come from a word of advice that he gives you.
Never Stop Showering Them With Gifts
My thinking is always this. Gathoni’s parents took care of her, on my behalf for 23 years. They nursed her, took her through kindergarten, primary, high school and finally campus. They chased away all the other prospects who pursued her all through her growing and most importantly raised her up in a Godly way. All for me, to come and enjoy and benefit from all this. They sacrificed a lot for her, and I am forever grateful and indebted to them for this. The best thing that I can do for them (other than take care of their daughter), is to honour them with gifts, just as a way to say thank you. So fellas, let us take every opportunity to spoil our parents-in-love. Whenever they need anything, be the 1st one to offer to help (If its an MPESA, send it from you phone) never let them lack anything. And when God blesses you brother, surprise them with a country home and a brand new car 😜.
The bible admonishes us this
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.1st Tim 5:8
Do Unto Them As You Would Want Done Unto You
One day, (If God blesses you) you will also be a father-in-law. I often ask myself, how would I want Imani’s husband to treat me? Would I want a kind, considerate, caring & understanding young man for her? Yes, yes most definitely.
And so, as I pray for her future husband, I should also remember that God up above is a witness to how I treat my in-laws. And the way I treat them, is the very same way, I will be treated some day.
DEALING WITH YOUR OWN FAMILY
The bible tells reminds us this in Gen 2:24
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
I always wondered why the bible commands this to the man and not to the wife. Isn’t it the wife who always leaves?..As I researched further on this, I discovered that the bible always commands us to do that which is unnatural & most difficult for us. That is why wives are not commanded to love, as they love naturally, but for us men, it takes quite some work to do. Thus, the reason why the man is commanded to ‘LEAVE’, it is because it is unnatural and very difficult to do so. While the wife naturally leaves.
So that is why the bible commands us husband to leave & to cleave to our wives. That means there will be a separation and a union all happening on the day you get married.
So, a wedding is not just two families becoming one, but two families coming together to form a ‘Third’ one (YOURS). The day you get married, a new family is formed, that of you and your wife and the bible commands us to hold FAST to each other, because testing is definitely going to come.
The 1st battle that you will have to deal with is that between your mom & your newly wedded wife. And the interesting thing is that you will have to referee the match & crown the winner💀 😪 💔. This, for many new husbands is one of the most difficult issues to deal with, seeing that you have choose between the two women you love most in all the world.
This is where I would suggest you ask God to intervene. He is the author of marriage and the creator of both your wife and mom. God is faithful, He will show you what to do. Secondly, talk about it at length with your wife and try and understand her heart. If she feels like she is second place in your life then there is a big issue. These are the very words of Jesus Christ
Therefore what God has joined together, let no ONE separate.Mark 10:9
That includes your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbours et al. Remember, your wife should never have to compete for your attention. She is now the priority. NUMERO UNO. All else is secondary. So, every-time your family offers you advice or asks you for something, tell them, “Let me consult with my wife 1st then I will get back to you“. Let them get acquainted with the idea that there is now a new boss in town. Discuss it over with her and when you get back to them start with, “My wife & I decided to….”.
When it comes to sending money to them, always have your wife send it over with her phone, so that they can know that you both agreed to it. Never make decisions without consulting her, always front a united team.
Remember these words of Jesus….
Cover Her Nakedness
When dealing with your family, it is very important to protect & cover your wife. Cover her nakedness. Do not expose her at the expense of looking good yourself. Remember you two are now ONE flesh. It’s you both against the world👫. Never disclose stuff she shares with you in confidentiality, especially with your family.
When you find anyone talking negatively about her (Especially those aunties), be the 1st to reprimand them and let them know that she is now your woman. Be humble, but be firm. Remember, as a Godly husband we are called to Protect, Provide & Pray over our wives.
The issue about dealing with your in-laws/family is a very complicated issue. There is no one-shoe-fits-all solution. No two marriages are alike, every family has its own innate issues. The best thing about it, is that it is possible to enjoy a wonderful & fruitful relationship, if you just let God be the centre of it all. Relationships are very complicated, but God is still good. Go to Him in earnest prayer & submission and He will make a way.
It is our prayer and desire that all families & marriages will thrive in Jesus’ name!
Tomorrow (God Willing) we cover part 2 where we address the wives.
To God Be The Glory,
I am a disciple of Christ, passionate about serving God’s purpose to my generation. I am a husband to Gathoni Kiruthi and together God has blessed us with 3 amazing children